There is an epidemic not only in this country, but throughout the world that no one wants to talk about. In fact, most people act as though it never happens. If it happens in their family to their son, more often than not, they will blame it on their son saying he must have asked for it.
So what is this epidemic I am talking about? It is the sexual abuse of boys. Statistically, 1:3 girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and that statistic stands firm. On the other hand, the statistic for boys that have been sexually abused is all over the board.
The statistic I use in my presentations is 1:4 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18 (Lisa Project 2010). The 1 in 6 (1in6. org) and Joyful Heart Foundation use the statistic of 1:6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18 – taken from a report by Jim Hopper, Ph.D. Sexual Abuse of Males (1996).
A study released in 2005 by Johnson et al. found that in a study of 100 men, 59% of their sample had been sexually abused and 100% of the men had reported some use of drugs. According to a report by the Mental Health Association in New York State, 80% of men that have been sexually abused have a substance abuse history. Yet other statistics tell us that upwards of 65-75% of men in treatment facilities have a history of this, yet there is very little, if any, help for men in this area.
I will say in all fairness that the statistics for abused boys remains controversial and understandably so. According to Megan’s Law and Crime Victims Center, less than 10% of child sexual abuse is reported to police.
In many ways, sexual abuse of boys is like an out of control cancer and like any cancer there is a treatment for it. However, before the treatment can begin, we must acknowledge the fact that we do indeed have a cancer growing inside of us.
According to Breastcancer.org, about 1:8 women will develop breast cancer and the American Cancer Society states that 1:5 people will develop colon cancer and 1:67 will develop pancreatic cancer. In contrast, according to a report by the Lisa Project (2010), 1:4 boys will be sexually abused before the age of eighteen.
When people are diagnosed with cancer they are met with an abundance of love, sympathy and support from their doctors and family. Often, they have the constant support from not only family and friends; often their community surrounds and supports them as well. For instance, a personal friend of my family has a daughter who at the age of four-years-old was diagnosed with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. With the efforts of my wife and many others, a Facebook page was developed and within six months almost two hundred thousand dollars was raised to help with the insurmountable medical bills her parents were receiving.
In contrast, if a young boy goes to someone telling him that he has been sexually abused, more often than not; his cry for help is discarded as a fabricated story rather than truth. He is told not to say anymore about it or never to bring it up again. The reality is most boys never say anything because they believe their family will be harmed or they will lose a variety of other emotional needs that are being met by the perpetrator. They won’t say anything to anyone for fear of looking weak or less of a man. There is also the fear that if you are not gay, your peers will call you gay. On the other hand, if you are gay, there is the fear of being accused of asking for it. So instead, they carry the secret into their adulthood. When they get tired of feeling the pain of their past trauma, tired of failed relationships; marriages and business failures, then and only then they might speak out and seek help.
Speaking out about being sexually abused as a child takes a tremendous amount of courage. Unfortunately, this courage is far too often met with the male victim being shunned and shamed for speaking up. They will be told, “That happened a long time ago. It’s time to grow up, get over it, and move on with your life.” These types of comments actually do more harm than good and inevitably lead to the victim crawling back into a world of isolation and addiction.
When I entered into recovery, I had both an AA sponsor and a CoDA sponsor. Both my sponsors were wise enough to tell me that when it came to my abuse issues, they could not help me. They advised me that I would have to rely on my therapist to help me through that process. Sadly, I have seen more damage done by sponsors trying to be therapist and ill advising sponsees to just get over it. On page 164 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous it says – “But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.” If you haven’t been sexually abused and done your own healing work, you cannot help someone that has – period.
Sexual abuse is a cancer of the soul and like any cancer the best cure is love and understanding from family and friends. What I needed the most when I started my healing journey in 2006 was to be listened to and heard without judgment- to be believed, validated and supported, and not for you to fix me, but to love me. When I received all of these from my counselors in treatment, I was finally able to move from a victim mentality to a courageous, healing, thriving survivor.
Read more on the healing process of sexual abuse in my book – Healing the Man Within – available at Amazon or on my website, www.courageoushealers.org. Randy Boyd is a licensed California Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Life Coach, the founder of the Courageous Healers Foundation, and an associate of “It Happens to Boys.” He speaks at conferences, schools, and treatment facilities about the effects of abuse on men and how men can heal from those effects. Randy is the author of the new Ground-breaking book addressing the sexual abuse of boys entitled “Healing the Man Within,” a book for male survivors written by a male survivor and their families. You can contact Randy to speak at your facility or event @ (760) 702-5498 or firstname.lastname@example.org